Rul­ing due on Bai­ley case

■ Rul­ing this month as French seek ex­tra­di­tion over du Plantier death

Irish Examiner - - Front Page - Ruaidhrí Giblin

The High Court will de­cide later this month whether it will en­dorse a war­rant seek­ing Ian Bai­ley’s ex­tra­di­tion to France for the mur­der of So­phie Toscan du Plantier in West Cork in December 1996.

Ex­tra­di­tion pro­ceed­ings can­not be­gin in Ire­land un­less the High Court en­dorses the French war­rant.

The High Court will de­cide later this month whether it will en­dorse a war­rant seek­ing Ian Bai­ley’s ex­tra­di­tion to France for the mur­der of film­maker So­phie Toscan du Plantier.

It is the third time French au­thor­i­ties have sought Mr Bai­ley’s sur­ren­der in re­la­tion to the death of Ms du Plantier, who was found dead out­side her hol­i­day home in Schull in December 1996. Ex­tra­di­tion pro­ceed­ings can­not be­gin in Ire­land un­til the High Court en­dorses the French war­rant.

Mr Bai­ley, with an ad­dress at The Prairie, Lisc­aha, Schull, West Cork, was con­victed of the French­woman’s mur­der in his absence in a Paris court ear­lier this year.

The three-judge Cour d’As­sises in Paris then im­posed a 25-year prison sen­tence on him in his absence.

The 62-year-old English­man de­nies any in­volve­ment in Ms du Plantier’s death. He did not at­tend the French court and had no le­gal rep­re­sen­ta­tion in the pro­ceed­ings, which he has de­scribed as a “farce”.

Lawyers for the min­is­ter for jus­tice told the High Court yes­ter­day that they had re­ceived a third Euro­pean Ar­rest War­rant from French au­thor­i­ties seek­ing Mr Bai­ley’s sur­ren­der.

Robert Bar­ron, coun­sel for the min­is­ter, told the court that the two pre­vi­ous ex­tra­di­tion at­tempts had been un­suc­cess­ful but, in the in­ter­ven­ing pe­riod, Mr Bai­ley had been con­victed of the French­woman’s vol­un­tary homi­cide.

Mr Bar­ron said it is the min­is­ter’s prac­tice to draw the court’s at­ten­tion to mat­ters that might pro­hibit sur­ren­der. He said the min­is­ter would “more or less” be ask­ing the court not to en­dorse the war­rant on the ba­sis that it was pro­hib­ited by the Supreme Court’s find­ing on “ex­trater­ri­to­ri­al­ity” in 2012.

The Supreme Court re­fused to ex­tra­dite Mr Bai­ley in 2012 — hold­ing that sur­ren­der was pro­hib­ited be­cause the al­leged of­fence was com­mit­ted out­side French ter­ri­tory and Ir­ish law does not al­low pros­e­cu­tion for the same of­fence when com­mit­ted out­side its ter­ri­tory by a non-Ir­ish cit­i­zen.

Mr Bar­ron said that would have been the end of the mat­ter. How­ever, pro­vi­sions in­tro­duced in the Crim­i­nal Law (Ex­trater­ri­to­rial Ju­ris­dic­tion) Act 2019 raised two pos­si­ble in­ter­pre­ta­tions of the Supreme Court’s ma­jor­ity find­ing on ex­trater­ri­to­ri­al­ity in 2012.

He said he is put­ting the “two al­ter­na­tive ver­sions of the Supreme Court judg­ment up in the air”. If the High Court holds that sur­ren­der is still pro­hib­ited — un­der sec­tion 44 of the Euro­pean Ar­rest War­rant Act 2003 — then it could refuse to en­dorse the war­rant.

Coun­sel for Mr Bai­ley, Ro­nan Munro, said his client would be ask­ing the court not to en­dorse the war­rant as it would re­sult in his lib­erty be­ing cur­tailed. He said Mr Bai­ley had taken the “time and trou­ble” to at­tend the High Court yes­ter­day “to in­di­cate his re­spect for the court”.

Mr Jus­tice Donald Binchy said he would ad­journ en­dors­ing the war­rant to al­low both sides make le­gal sub­mis­sions.

Mr Jus­tice Binchy said the process of en­dors­ing war­rants is “by and large a screen­ing process” to en­sure peo­ple are “not dragged through the courts” on foot of “flawed” war­rants. He said he be­lieves the process of en­dors­ing ex­tra­di­tion war­rants is “unique” to Ire­land and that he thinks it is a good process.

Mr Jus­tice Binchy said the cir­cum­stances sur­round­ing the present ex­tra­di­tion re­quest are prob­a­bly “unique”. He said he is mind­ful of the fact that once a war­rant is en­dorsed there are cer­tain time lim­its that have to be hon­oured. He put the mat­ter back to December 16.

Mr Bar­ron also flagged a “dif­fi­culty” with the trans­la­tion of the judg­ment of the French court an­nexed to the war­rant. Mr Jus­tice Binchy said it is “very dif­fi­cult to un­der­stand” and he may re­quire a fresh trans­la­tion.

Once a war­rant is en­dorsed, it is acted upon by de­tec­tives from the Garda’s ex­tra­di­tion unit. Ahead of any po­ten­tial ac­tion on foot of the war­rant, Mr Munro said he was anx­ious to avoid any ar­rest of Mr Bai­ley “over the week­end”, which hap­pened on foot of the first ex­tra­di­tion re­quest in 2010.

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